When just shy of 700 people have played for an organization during it’s 54-year history, there’s a good chance some big names will pass through town, even if it’s just for a brief moment. Tony Amonte was 14-year NHL veteran when he suited up for the orange and black for the first time in 2003 and made it through just 93 games before the winds of change blew once again.
The longtime Chicago Blackhawk started his career with the New York Rangers, the team that drafted him 68th overall in 1988. He had three successful seasons with the powerhouse New York team, but was traded to Chicago in exchange for veterans Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan. The traded ended up backfiring badly for the Rangers, but it launched Tony Amonte into stardom.
He reunited with Thayer Academy high school teammate Jeremy Roenick and hit the 20-goal plateau in seven of his eight seasons in Chicago, getting to 30 goals three times and eclipsing 40 goals an additional three times. He was named captain in 2000 and held the role until he left the organization in 2002.
In the summer of 2002 his contract expired with the Blackhawks and the two sides couldn’t come to a financial agreement so Amonte chose to enter the free agent market for the first time in his career.
In July of 2002, he signed a four-year, $24 million contract as a free agent with the Phoenix Coyotes. Given the team was unsurprisingly on the path to miss the playoffs and Amonte himself was struggling for the first time in his career, he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2003 trade deadline for a pair of draft picks and Guillaume Lefebvre.
Amonte was revived in Philly as the Flyers were able to squeeze the last bit of success out of his career. He scored his tenth and final 20+ goal campaign in 2003-04 and played his 1,000th career game on March 5, 2004, the same day as the legendary Flyers-Senators brawl.
The Flyers made it all the way to game seven of the Eastern Conference Final in 2004 before losing to the eventual Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning. Amonte had his best postseason showing since his first full season with the Rangers in 1992 with three goals and eight points in 18 games.
Due to the 2005 lockout and implementation of the salary cap, the Flyers had to shed some money and one of their decisions was to buyout the remaining two seasons of Amonte’s contract. He signed with the Calgary Flames and played two more seasons before retiring in 2007.
Amonte was a regular in the Team USA lineup for international competition. He represented the USA at two World Cup of Hockey events in 1996 (gold) and 2004 (fourth), two World Championships in 1991 (fourth) and 1993 (sixth), and two Olympics in 1998 (sixth) and 2002 (silver).
Today, Amonte is back where his legendary career started, as the head coach of Thayer Academy varsity hockey team. He still sits seventh all-time in goals by an American-born player with 416, a number that Patrick Kane, Joe Pavelski, Zach Parise and Phil Kessel could all eclipse by the end of their respective careers. He is also 13th all-time in points by an American-born player with 900.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)